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Commenting on the war in Ukraine some months ago, US President Joe Biden said it was a battle between democracy and autocracy. The ongoing war is certainly a battle between the West and Russia, but it is not one between democracy and autocracy. Many non-Western democracies in Africa and in Asia, led by SA and India, have consciously chosen not to take sides.

As Biden reneges on his election campaign promise to make Saudi Arabia a pariah over its human rights abuses by visiting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, we can see again that the US also needs to keep powerful autocracies on side. The US needs Saudi Arabia geopolitically in the Middle East lest Russia, China and Iran become too influential in the region. It also needs Saudi oil at a time when high oil prices are driving a global recession and high petrol prices at home are hurting his re-election prospects...

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